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If you look up #ProductivityHacks online, no doubt you will find the phrases ‘batch your time’ and ‘block your time’ in numerous blogs and articles. That’s because, logically, they both work well in increasing your productivity and are super catchy and easy to explain and implement.
Batching your time means grouping together similar tasks (like writing blog posts, for example) and doing them all at once. Blocking is the practice of sectioning off your time to devote to one/certain tasks. Now, you may think you have to do one or the other, but in reality these two systems work best when used together...
AND when they are used in a way that supports you and your ways of thinking and getting stuff done.
There, I said it. It’s not a one-size-fits-all, do this or never get anything done, method.
It’s got to work for you and for the work you are doing. I recently took some steps to figure out what my best ways of working were, and so far, so good. I’ll share with you my process so you can take and adapt it to fit your needs.
STEP 1: DOCUMENT YOUR TIME
This is super important. I tracked my time for a week, which was a good glimpse into my habits (my weeks are generally the same). I had gotten used to tracking my time for clients, but I never tracked my time for working on my own business or anything outside of my business. It was incredibly insightful (and, honestly, made me feel a little bad for sleeping so much - but I quickly got over that).
You could use an app like Toggl or Harvest to do this, or just good ol’ paper and pencil. There’s a printable you can use in the VIP Section (which you’ll get access to if you sign up for The Weekly Wine Down).
Document #allthethings. I documented how long I scrolled through Instagram (too long), how long I spent making/eating food (not very long), how long I spent doing anything self-care related (not long enough, though that’s been adjusted since), etc. I documented how long it took me to write a blog post, how long it took me to create a free download, and how long it took me to answer emails.
After a week some interesting things come to light. Yours may differ, but mine looked like: too much time on social media (duh), ratio of client work to my own business work was hugely distorted, and I rarely took enough time to rejuvenate and work on myself. All things that should be changed, in my opinion.
STEP 2: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO BATCH
Okay, I’m going to say something dramatic - I’m not really #teambatching the way that a lot of business owners are. In theory, it’s great. Get all your blog posts done for a year! Schedule social media for the next 6 months! Batch batch batch!
I have a few a hangups with it. a) How in the heck am I supposed to know what will be relevant in a year? Yes, my business model may be planned out and I may know what I want to launch in November or December, but I can’t possibly know what’s actually going on in my life or in the world. Like what if something crazy happens. What if Oprah announces her presidential campaign but I’ve already got a blog post planned about how I get in enough water during my workday or something that is suddenly completely trivial in comparison?!
Now, I know we can obviously adjust and tweak, but that’s just an extreme example. The whole concept is strange to me - maybe it’s because I’ve continually tweaked my business year after year as I’ve niched down further and learned and understood more about myself. But, either way, I can’t tell you blog posts for November right now because I can’t tell you where I will be mentally, emotionally, (hell, even physically), and I sure as heck can’t tell you what will be relevant in online business, or the rest of the world.
All of that to say, I don’t batch a ton of things. But, I do think there are some relevant things to batch in your business and in your life. A really obvious example - if you’re going to the grocery store, and the gas station is right next to it, go ahead and batch up some errands. I batch meeting days because I hate wasting time getting ready for meetings and the interruption in my days (blogged about here). I do 90-day plans, which could be considered a form of batching and I have vague ideas out what I might blog about throughout that quarter (i.e. this blog post was labeled ‘blocking or batching?’ in my Asana workflow.
The key here is to decide what is good FOR YOU and look back at step 1 to see what you are doing throughout a week to see if any of those tasks could be batched and make you more efficient. A lot of people batch write blog posts. I can’t do that, I put a lot into writing content and if it I were to finish this one up and sit down to write another it would 100% be crap, fluff content. You may be better or quicker at writing - but only you know yourself, so do what is best for you (and don’t be scared to experiment, test, evaluate, and adjust).
Ideas of things you could batch:
- Creating Content
- Recording Video or Audio
- Scheduling Social Media
- Meetings or Client Calls
- Creating Social Media Graphics
- Taking Stock Photos
- Certain Client Tasks
For me, I limit batching to meetings/client calls (Mondays or Wednesdays) and some client work (if I’m doing mostly social media graphics for a client, I’ll do those in bulk). The argument could be made that I “batch” a lot of client work, but in reality I consider it more of a time block - I’ll explain more below.
Oh, and outside of business, I definitely batch things like cooking (we don’t ‘meal prep’ like you see on Instagram, but we do cook like a lot of chicken or whatever meat ahead of time and eat off of it for the week). That saves a ton of time. Plus I don’t love cooking or the cleanup, so I’d rather just get that all over at once.
STEP 3: CREATE YOUR TIME BLOCKS
Time blocking and me? We tight. We good. We real good. We franz.
Time blocking works for me because a) I get bored easily, b) I have a lot of client work that changes every day, and c) I am a completely different beast at 9am versus 2pm versus 8pm and blocking allows me to work around that.
Time blocking is the idea that you section off parts of your schedule (or all of it) into blocks and stick to those time frames to do designated tasks. And I think it’s awesome.
We’ve discussed how I time block in previous posts. I’ve mentioned how I have CEO Time blocked off on Mondays and Fridays, and time for content on Tuesdays and Thursdays, etc. So when I reflected on my results from Step 1, here’s a big thing I noticed (and why I leaned into blocking over batching): I don’t take time for my own business. And I want to take time for my own business. I’m really fond of this thing.
With blocking I allow time to work on my business every day, and that’s highly important to me. It also just works better with my overall personality and best ways of working. For example, if I had a batch day or recording videos or something there would be some pros: one day of makeup, etc. BUT, at 4pm that day, because I know myself well enough to say this - I would have a small panic attack over how little I got done for clients. I’d feel obliged to stay up working into the evening. This is just how I roll, days of no ‘obvious’ productivity are not cool with me.
Instead, I can block off maybe 2-3 hours to do something (isn’t that a rule in itself? 2-3-hours of highly productive time? Tim Ferriss?) in my prime productivity time (weirdly enough, 1-4pm), and spend the remainder of the day working on other tasks within my blocks and still feel accomplished. I might do the only hard or strenuous thing within that peak productivity time, but I’ll still get other, simpler tasks done and end my day feeling accomplished.
So my schedule, if you want to do exactly as me (which I don’t recommend - you should 100% adapt this to your best fit), is generally blocked off as follows:
- 8-9am: Me Time
- 9-10am: Business Time (emails, admin, etc.)
- 10-12pm: Small, quick task time (this can be my own work, but is generally client work. Tasks that take between 15-30m. Answering emails. Quick edits. Exporting files. Templated graphics. This is usually where I get the ‘yaaaas gurl you did the damn thing’ feeling, because I end up crossing off a lot of small tasks on my to do list. These are all generally ‘easy’ tasks for me and I’m still not fully awake yet because I’m a straight up #zombie in the morning.
- 12-12:30pm: Me time
- 12:30-1pm: Random, unscheduled time. Usually in my inbox, or on social media, or cleaning up around the house
- 1-4pm: Big work time. This is when I do whatever BIG project is on my plate, because this is when I’m really firing on all cylinders. 99% of the time this is client work, though I suspect that may become closer to 50% when I get closer to launching things.
- 4-5pm: Business time (some days it’s for content, other days it’s for things like updating my blog graphics - which I did recently), etc.
- End my day at 5pm usually. Sometimes if I am really excited about something I’ll keep working because I want to, but never because I have to.
So how that looks in my calendar is just colored blocks that say ‘Business’ or ‘Client’. I even have monthly tasks blocked off, and time on Sunday blocked off to sit down and look at the week ahead, set intentions, etc. That’s something I definitely can’t do in bulk, and needs its individual time each week.
STEP 4: TEST, EVALUATE, AND ADJUST
This step is perhaps the most important, because you have to find what works best for you if you want to continue using these methods and ideas. For example, I used to think I’d write content on Mondays, but that rarely happens. I’m usually in a good mood at some point over the weekend, feeling creative, feeling inspired, and that ends up being when I want to write. You’re allowed to change and adjust!
If you want to try batching, try batching for a quarter instead of the whole year and see if it feels right to you. Assess if you end up having to change your plan often, or if things work and flow easily. Try blocking your days around when you are your most productive, but be prepared that it may all change in the next season of your life or business.
My number one tip and lesson I’ve learned is that no article on Pinterest is going to be exactly right for you and your business (or life). The best bet is to take, absorb, and mold to fit your needs. Now that you’ve got some ideas of what you may want to batch or block off, let’s chat! Let me know below how you structure, or plan to structure, this week!
I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!